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Miami Heat oust Boston Celtics, advance to NBA Finals

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Sept. 27 (UPI) — The Miami Heat advanced to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014 after a 125-113 win over the Boston Celtics in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals Sunday night inside the NBA bubble near Orlando, Fla.

Bam Adebayo scored a season-high 32 points and brought down 14 rebounds for the Heat, who won the Eastern Conference for the sixth time in franchise history. Miami will play LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers for the championship. Game 1 of that series is Wednesday night.

“This group, more than anything, they just love to compete,” Heat head coach Erik Spoelstra said during the trophy celebration.

Heat star Jimmy Butler, who will be playing in his first NBA Finals, notched 22 points and eight assists. Tyler Herro had 19 points, seven assists and five rebounds, while Andre Iguodala and Duncan Robinson each scored 15. Goran Dragic added 13 points for Miami.

Jaylen Brown led the Celtics with 26 points, eight rebounds and three steals. Jayson Tatum scored 24 and had a career-best 11 assists.

Marcus Smart and Kemba Walker each added 20 points for the Celtics, who fell in the East finals for the third time in the past four seasons. Gordon Hayward recorded 12 points and two assists off the bench.

The Heat are the only NBA team with six Finals appearances in the last 15 years. They are seeking their fourth title in franchise history.



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Saints WR Emmanuel Sanders put on COVID-19 list, out vs. Panthers

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Oct. 23 (UPI) — The New Orleans Saints will be without top wide receivers Michael Thomas and Emmanuel Sanders for their game against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday.

The team announced Friday that Sanders, the Saints’ second-leading receiver this season, is out for Sunday’s matchup after landing on the reserve/COVID-19 list. Thomas, who was already dealing with an ankle sprain, was ruled out with a hamstring injury.

Saints head coach Sean Payton told reporters Friday that Sanders — who practiced Wednesday and Thursday — tested positive for the coronavirus on Thursday, leading to his placement on the COVID-19 list. The team then tested about 20 people who might have been in contact with Sanders, but all of them tested negative.

However, Payton said backup cornerback Ken Crawley will be placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list as a precaution because of his close contact with Sanders.

“We found out [Thursday]. He wasn’t feeling well,” Payton said. “Right away, [director of sports medicine] Beau [Lowery] sent him to our doctors for one of our tests. That came back positive. After that happened, we traced those players he was around, coaches — we actually tested about 20 more people that might have been near him, and those all came back negative.

“Ken Crawley, for instance, came back with a time frame that puts him out, so he’ll show up as COVID but without a positive test. It’s more of a precaution.”

Sanders becomes the second Saints player to test positive for the coronavirus this season. Running back Dwayne Washington spent time on the team’s COVID-19 list in training camp and early in the season.

Sanders caught a career-best 12 passes for 122 yards in the Saints’ Week 5 win over the Los Angeles Chargers. New Orleans had a bye in Week 6.

Thomas will now miss his fifth straight game. He suffered a high ankle sprain in Week 1 and was benched for disciplinary reasons in Week 5.

This week in the National Football League

Philadelphia Eagles’ Boston Scott (L) makes the 18-yard, game-winning touchdown catch at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Thursday, to defeat the New York Giants 22-21. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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NBA considering 72 games, pre-Christmas start for 2020-21 season

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Oct. 23 (UPI) — The NBA is eyeing a pre-Christmas Day start and a reduced regular-season schedule for the 2020-21 season.

League sources told ESPN and The Athletic on Friday that the league proposed multiple changes to next season that include a 72-game regular season, a play-in tournament and the likelihood of no All-Star weekend in Indianapolis. According to the outlets, the NBA is targeting Dec. 22 to begin the upcoming season.

The league also is considering a two-week break at the halfway point of the season, according to ESPN. The NBA shared its plans in a conference call with team owners on Friday afternoon, and the league wants to move quickly to finalize negotiations with the National Basketball Players Association to implement the plan.

The reduction in the number of regular-season games — which would help accommodate a play-in tournament format for the Eastern and Western conferences — would allow the NBA to finish its season before the Summer Olympics in Japan next year.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, the NBA wants to avoid another bubble format, according to reports. Instead, the league continues to discuss travel and game schedules that would keep teams in cities for a longer amount of time to play multiple games, similar to a Major League Baseball series.

The NBA and the NBPA agreed that Oct. 30 would be the deadline to complete ongoing talks on modifications to the collective bargaining agreement for the 2020-21 campaign. That deadline date requires the league or players’ union to provide 45 days notice if either side opts to terminate the CBA.

The league recently completed its 2019-20 season in a bubble format on the Walt Disney World Resort campus near Orlando, Fla. A limited number of family members and friends were allowed to attend during the playoffs, but games were mostly held without anyone in attendance.



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Washington fines Dwayne Haskins for violating team’s COVID-19 protocols

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Boston Scott (L) makes the 18-yard, game-winning touchdown catch at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia on Thursday, to defeat the New York Giants 22-21. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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